The Indian art and culture are fascinating beyond you can imagine. And the traditional nine-yard long outfit-the Indian saree portrays our rich and diverse culture more than anything else. Banarasi saree has a fair share of interesting history behind its origin. The Mughals were the ones to introduce banarasi sarees to our country.
No wonder the intricate design and beautiful craftsmanship have been winning our hearts ever since. Did you know that banarasi sarees are known as the “Indian Sun” in the world of global fashion? Such is the beauty and appeal of this material.
It was first originated in the state of Uttar Pradesh in Northern India in a city known as Banaras. Banaras has always been in the limelight as a production unit for handmade textiles.
The artistic history and rich cultural tradition of this city are hugely resembled by the Banarasi sarees. The history of weaving in Banaras dates back to almost 1500 BC to 500 BC as mentioned in the Vedic text. The Banarasi weavers were popularly known as Tantuvayas who would craft varieties of clothes such as cotton, silk, and brocades. The popular belief among Buddhist legends is that post the death or Mahaparinirvana of Lord Buddha, Banarasi fabric was used to wrap his mortals which emitted red, blue, and yellow rays.
It was during the Gupta period when Banarasi sarees gained a lot of popularity. The murals in the Ajanta caves represented the animal and bird motifs, floral patterns, and geometrical styles of Banarasi sarees. Banarasi silk has always been prestigious among the Hindus and used for several ceremonial purposes. Even the Muslim rulers were in admiration of this piece of art. Their men excelled in the art of weaving banarasi sarees. From the period of Akbar, animal motifs were replaced with Persian designs.
Even foreigners from across the world couldn’t help but admire the elegance of this saree. Ralph Fitch, an English traveler described the fabric as “fine as the filmy webs and spider weavers”. Tavernier, a French traveler was moved by the power of Banaras silk and brocade industry and even wrote about it.
There are two traditional weaving centers in Varanasi. They are Madanpura and Alaipura. Both of them are known for their uniquely distinct style of weaving and design patterns. Madanpura weavers follow more of a traditional style of weaving that involves fine detailing. Alaipura weavers are more inclined towards unconventional and experimental weaving techniques.
It takes about 15 days to a month to weave a Banarasi silk saree. The process is quite complex and intricate and requires a lot of patience and focus. A heavily embroidered and decorated Banarasi saree that Bengali women usually wear at their weddings can even take around half a year to produce just a single piece.
Do you already not feel nostalgic and proud about such an authentic and cultural history of origin and evolution of banarasi sarees? Now you know why they are a must addition to your wardrobe apart from their jaw-dropping beauty.